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Getting Fired or Laid Off, what to say to your friend who has been laid off.

Last fall (2007) there was a CEO succession at the company where my husband and I work. In November, my husband, who was in upper management, was the first to be laid off. In a nanosecond not only does your work network crumble, but so does your social network. This is a small town. When this happened nobody would talk to us. I can’t tell you the number of our friends that wouldn’t, couldn’t or didn’t know how talk to us. They would avoid us, by looking at their shoes and walk away. May be it was fear? Will they be next? I don’t know what shunning is excactly, but loss of all our social contacts was rather devistating on top of the job loss. So, what do you say or do for your co-worker and friend who has been fired or laid off?

Whenever there is a change in management, employees become afraid. Your job feels very insecure, you may become defensive, protecting your position. With a change in management, there usually is some form of change coming down the pike. When a company brings on a new CEO, it may well mean changes in top management. Jack Welch became president of GE (General Electric) when GE was in trouble. He was known by the nickname “Neutron Jack” because many folks lost their jobs. However, he turned the company around to be a viable in today’s world, thereby saving and creating jobs. That scenario happens every day in companies all over the county. But what do you say or do for your co-worker who has been laid off.

1) When you see your friend, say “Hi, I am sorry to hear about your job.” Loosing a job isn’t leprosy, it’s not contagious. Just say “Hi!” The friendship and support is needed and much appreciated. Just keep in contact.
2) Do activities with your friend. Go to lunch or dinner with them, play golf or cards or go to a show. You don’t have to fix the situation, just be a friend.
3) Listen, your friend will need to sort things out and make plans for the future. It is easier and nicer to have a friend walk the path with you.
4) Encourage your friend through the process of the job search. It can be very lonely and frustrating to look for a new position. It is very important to be positive during this time. You are much more likely to land a new job with positive upbeat attitude. Call your friend, frequently to see how he/she is doing and how the process is going.
5) Depending upon the circumstances, the friend may have to move. Stay in contact with your friend during the process. If there are ways to help, do so if you are able. Having your friend over for a simple dinner is a wonderful gesture.
6) There will be a whole host of emotions that everyone will go through during this process. You don’t have to get stuck in “life sucks” conversations. Simply recognizing the emotions of anger, disappointment, sadness, and grief may be all that you need to do. Then you can get on to what is right and good in the new opportunities that present.
7) Be a “Friend”. Be present and available to the extent you can. You never know when this person or another friend will need to be there for you. “Pay it forward”, if you will.

Getting fired or laid-off is not the worst thing in the world. Learn from the situation and grow. It is a doorway to new opportunities that await you.

I invite you to visit if you are having trouble with the stress of being fired or laid-off.

From Mary Pat FitzGibbons, RN MS

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